MAARI  (2015)

Director: Balaji Mohan
Casts: Dhanush, Kajal Agarwal, Robo Shankar, Vijay Yesudas
Music: Anirudh
Language: Tamil
Genre: Action Comedy

After coming up with quirky, relatable romantic comedies with long lyrical titles oozing with innovation, Balaji Mohan puts up his collar by piercing inside the crowd-pleasing genre of Indian Masala. It’s every director’s phase and desire to step on the mainstream action genre, at least once in their career and no difference for this young talent. With explosive reception for the promos, will Balaji-Dhanush combo manage to win the audience?

Maari (Dhanush) is a local don who loots his designated area through taking bribes and organizing pigeon races which he passionately champions each time. He has two sidekicks, Sunny (Robo Shankar) and Robert (Vinoth). In the world of pigeon races, he faces many rivalries but manages them with his bravery and wit. To put an end to the atrocities, new Sub Inspector, Arjun (Vijay Yesudas) reopens a closed murder case of Maari and hunts for evidence to get him behind the bars. With multiple targets pointing at Maari, how he escapes all obstacles and wins the battle forms the crux of the story.

Story Screenplay
Balaji Mohan who has given us layered and innovative stories previously, plays extremely safe in Maari with a wafer-thin storyline of a cat-and-mouse tale, banking mostly on the lead character. As a character driven film, the screenplay is pretty straightforward with limited emotional arc.

Maari’s biggest strength is the well-crafted dialogues that are carefully engineered to make the crowd gung ho. There are literally no scenes that does not start or end with a punch. Balaji Mohan does a neat job in keeping that impressive form throughout the film without appearing forceful at any point.

On the downside, Maari does tests patience with repeated scenes of ‘Bird’ Ravi entering the area and Maari chasing them off in different ways. Given that it’s a character driven film, the problem about Maari is that it doesn’t really injects real challenges for the lead character which makes the story very convenient. The romance track even though creates few bumps in the arc of the film, looks forced.

Despite these hiccups, Balaji Mohan’s decision to close the romance track and Maari’s character unlike to usual masala flicks is certainly commendable.

With just an idea and inspiration from old Rajinikanth films, Balaji Mohan gambles his way to the finish line quite engagingly by staying true to what he had promised. Entertainment!

Casting & Performance
After essaying award-winning roles, Dhanush takes a role that will make his fans happy. Despite not having a big built body, his threatening stare and charisma are more than enough to electrify the existing punchy scenes written by Balaji.

Next on the list is Robo Shankar who leaves the audiences in splits wit his witty one-liners. With his unique body language and well-timed deliveries, Robo Shankar is a definite scream and an important asset to the film.

Kajal Agarwal as Sri Devi, does a decent job in her type casted role whereas famous singer, Vijay Yesudas disappoints donning an important role in the film. One might wonder whether it’s his weak acting or Balaji Mohan’s deliberate weak characterization is the culprit of the feeble outcome.

Another problem with Maari is the underwritten roles of all the supporting character that glorifies the lead but also adds on to the mundane scenes where audience can clearly guess that Maari is going to win effortlessly. However, Dhanush makes up to this by his terrific screen presence that leaves us not complaining.


Balaji always carefully chooses and uses the technical department to package his film well and Maari is no exception.

Om Prakash’s cinematography highlights the vibrant colours present in the screen giving us a fresh look each scene.  The long takes and tracking shots during the dance and stunt shows Balaji’s hunger to infuse innovation even in normal scene. ‘Stunt’ Silva needs a special mention here for choreographing raw and gutsy stunts, even during song sequences.

Anirudh’s songs are already chartbusters and presented with lots of fire and passion on screen. His BGMs are massive and apt for the film. Dance choreographer Baba Baskar’s terrifically fast steps do elevate the songs to another level. His rapport with Dhanush certainly becoming better each film.

Balaji Mohan’s sound technical eye does give the needed boost to keep his simple idea engaging for two hours.

Acclaimed director Balaji Mohan moves away from his comfort zone with an unpretentious, engaging masala flick banking on Dhanush's ever-reliable screen presence. With traces of innovation, despite traveling on a tried and tested path, Maari is loaded with solid entertainment.

Verdict: 'Out of control'

Movie Rating:  3/5

Director’s crown – BALAJI MOHAN: 

By Kannan Vijayakumar


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